BPA is short for bisphenol A, a synthetic compound used to increase durability in many plastic products. It has been used widely since the 1950s, but has recently come under significant scrutiny. Though the levels currently present in plastic have been found to be safe by the FDA, many parents choose to avoid BPA whenever possible, especially for babies and young children.
Recent studies have revealed BPA’s ability to mimic the hormone estrogen, which means that it can interfere with important hormonal processes. Some studies in laboratory animals have also linked BPA exposure to ADHD, obesity, and even cancer. When plastics containing BPA are washed, heated, or frozen, they break down enough to allow the chemical to leach into food and beverages. BPA is also used in other products such as the linings of aluminum cans and the thermal paper used to print receipts.
Basically everyone living in a modern society will be exposed to BPA, so it is helpful to maintain perspective. However, children are at the greatest risk for adverse effects. Children do not have the capacity to detoxify BPA that adults do, so it is important to be vigilant about Baby‘s BPA exposure.
The good news is that BPA has been removed from most products such as baby bottles, pacifiers, and toys. The majority of toddler products such as spoons and sippy cups are also free of BPA. It is worth noting, however, that BPA has largely been replaced by bisphenol S, which has been shown to exert many of the same endocrine-disrupting properties as BPA. It is best if parents can help Baby stay away from plastics whenever possible.
A few easy tips for avoiding BPA:
- Avoid feeding Baby products from aluminum cans
- Store all pantry items such as cereal and dried fruit in glass canisters
- Even though BPA is regulated now, some parents are still concerned about exposure. If you’re concerned, use glass bottles
- Give Baby stainless steel sippy cups once weaned
- Dispose of old plastic items such as water bottles and food storage containers
- Opt for wooden toys whenever possible
- Always avoid plastics with the number 3 or 7 on the bottom
While it is unfortunate that a chemical widely used for decades has been found to be a concern, simple changes can help parents and Baby avoid the large majority of BPA. As a general rule, always opt for glass and stainless steel over plastic, provide baby with fresh foods whenever possible, and know that you are doing a great job keeping Baby happy and healthy!